Dec 21, 2006
Directed by Billy Wilder
Rated Not Rated, 107 min.
Billy Wilder's classic noir, a familiar brew of lust, larceny, and lethal intentions, stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck as a hot-blooded couple. Framed in flashback, the story is told by the dying Walter Neff (MacMurray), beginning with his first meeting with the seductive Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) during a routine renewal of her husband's car insurance. After some flirtation she arranges a meeting without her husband, where she asks about an accident policy to be bought without her husband's knowledge. Although repulsed by the implications of her suggestions, his obsession with Phyllis leads Neff to contemplate the possibility of finding a way to kill her husband while making his death look like an accident. After she comes to his apartment, the insurance salesman finally agrees to become involved in the murder, and the two of them begin methodically working out the details. After the they dispose of Dietrichson, Neff learns more than he wanted about Phyllis' unsavory past, but realizes he's now too involved to extricate himself. He's also concerned about his a boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), an omniscient insurance investigator who has taken over the case. Double Indemnity is brilliant noir, among the best of the genre, with a byzantine yet utterly plausible plot, stylized hard-boiled dialogue by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, and three terrific performances by Stanwyck, MacMurray, and Robinson.
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